In defense of Pete Carroll
By LIAM BEVANS
College Contributor Network
In this age of social media, it takes only a few taps on a screen to send your opinion at warp speed all across the world. Regardless of how uneducated and biased your opinion might be.
Pete Carroll has been blasted by fans and former players alike for the ill-fated pass he green lighted which ultimately cost Seattle the the Super Bowl. The reactions began immediately, with people spouting off on Twitter that Carroll had just made the worst play call in Super Bowl, nay sports, history. So many people fell victim to their strong emotions, that the mob mentality which was perpetrated by knee-jerk reactions has continued well beyond its rightful expiration date. Did the Seahawks have a tremendous running back to whom they could hand the ball off? Yes. Is it inexcusable to turn the ball over in the red zone, let alone on the one-yard line? Yes. Was it wrong to throw the football? No.
Let's take a look at the situation in which the now infamous play was called, keeping in mind that the average play lasts between 6 and 7 seconds. With :26 seconds left on the clock and only one timeout, the Seahawks had 2nd-and-goal from a yard out. If the Seahawks were to run the ball on second down and did not score, Seattle would have to call their final timeout with around 19 seconds left, allowing one second to tick off after the play. Now for those of you saying there is no chance the Patriots could have held up on the goal line against Beast Mode, remember Lynch only scored once on five tries from the one-yard line during the regular season.
This leaves Seattle in a must-pass situation for the final two plays of the Super Bowl, allowing the Patriots to bring in all of their defensive backs, as opposed to just the three they had on the field the play before. If Wilson is sacked on third down, or a receiver is tackled within the field of play on third down, the Seahawks now have no timeouts to stop the clock. The play would end with around 13 seconds left, and they would be in scramble mode to get lined up and rush the most important play of the season.
A pass on second down allowed for a larger room for error on the next two plays, by preserving their final timeout. With the clocked stopped on an incompletion, the worst possible outcome from a pass in the minds of the Seahawks coaching staff, Seattle would have the option to either run or pass on third down. This would keep the New England defense from loading up against one or the other, and if Lynch were to be stopped or Wilson sacked they could use their final timeout. Then the clock would be a non-issue for the final play, once again either a run or a pass.
As for those calling malarkey on the actual play call, that too is a product of situational football. During their week of preparation leading up to the Super Bowl, and every regular season game for that matter, Seattle has certain play calls which they work on ad nauseam during a five-minute goal line period each practice session. Just as every team has a certain play, or possibly two, which they will absolutely run if they need a two-point conversion, every team has a couple of goal line plays which they are absolutely confident in calling. This no doubt was one of those calls, a play which the Seahawks execute every day in practice.
In the end it wasn't just failed execution in a crucial moment that doomed the call, excellent practice preparation by New England contributed to the demise of Seattle. They noticed the tendency for Seattle to call this play in goal line situations during film study, allowing them to also practice the goal line slant with Josh Boyce as the scout receiver, which ultimately allowed Malcolm Butler to break on a slant he had no business diagnosing approximately half a second after the snap.
But don't take my word for it, just look at this quote from the man who has won the most Super Bowls in NFL history.
"Malcolm and Brandon [Browner], on that particular play, just made a great play," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told WEEI after the game.
"I think the criticism they've gotten for the game is totally out of line and by a lot of people who I don't think are anywhere near even qualified to be commenting on it."
So go ahead America, skewer the man who was one yard away from becoming the first coach to win back-to-back Super Bowls in ten years. Hop on Twitter and roast the offensive coordinator who called two touchdown drives during the final minutes of the NFC Championship game just to get the Seahawks onto the biggest stage. Keep spouting those unqualified opinions, I'm sure your favorite coach will want to take them into account the next time he has to make a call with 20 seconds left in the Super Bowl.
Liam Bevans is a graduate student at Boston College. He has spent the last six years working for the BC football team both as a student and as an intern. Follow him on twitter: @liham_andcheese